Tampa, FL - April 6, 2012 -Top-notch competition continued in the Amateur-Owner Hunters in the Main Hunter Ring at the Tampa Equestrian Festival's Tournament of Champions today. In the Amateur-Owner Hunters, Robin Swinderman and INXS made a clean sweep of the division winning all four of the over fences classes and the under saddle.
Irresistible Opportunity shown by Lauren Muller repeated her second place honors in the first of the over fences classes. Also in the Amateur-Owner Hunters, London, piloted by Darby Toben of Califon, NJ, produced a red ribbon place in the second over fences class.
In the under saddle, Swinderman rode INXS softly and beautifully to the top of the class, exhibiting their daisy-cutter trot and elegant canter. INXS was honored with the win. Allawishus and Katherine Mittauer earned the second place, with the third place going to Lynn Seithel and Versace.
The course for the Amateur-Owner classes was changed considerably from the first day. Horses and riders were tested for patience and the ability to find the perfect distance after a diagonal vertical-to-oxer combination followed by a very long gallop to a single oxer on the far outside line. Several riders found the single oxer distance challenging.
INXS and Swinderman were simply unbeatable in the two over fences classes. The duo laid down two equally spectacular rounds, demonstrating the bay Trakehner gelding's stylish way of going and consistent jumping form. It came as no surprise that Swinderman and INXS earned the championship title, as well as the circuit championship award.
Swinderman has had INXS, or as he is more affectionately known around the barn, Aden, for about three and a half years. She originally bought him from a dressage barn where he was trained in a small amount of cross-country. "The barn had a working student that decided he could jump, and I've had him ever since he started in the hunters."
Swinderman spent the show schooling with trainer, Amanda Steege. According to Steege, "I'm not her official trainer, but I'm helping her this week. She really knows what she's doing. I just try to say nothing that's going to screw her up!"
"I love Tampa, Stadium Jumping does such a nice job," continued Steege. "It's very user friendly, there are plenty of places to ride and lunge. It's super easy to fly into Tampa."
Lauren Mullen and her Irresistible Opportunity opted for a warm-up round, which seemed to help the Warmblood mare find her focus. Mullen's first round was stylish, smooth and perfectly paced. The mare jumped the course in excellent hunter form, showing tremendous scope over the outside single oxer. She received the judges' nod for the second place on her performance. The pair's second round was also respectable, producing a third place decision from the judges.
Ringside, rooting for Mullen were her trainer, Mary Louise Powers, her mother, GeorgeAnn Powers and Lauren's mother, Pam Muller. It is evident that the close-knit group has shared many memories as Lauren has grown up at horse shows throughout the years.
"Lauren is a student at the University of Florida, and of course, she earns straight A's. She hasn't been able ride a lot. She will be transferring next year to be closer to the farm so she can ride." confided GeorgeAnn Powers.
"We have all the mothers here!" chimed in Pam Muller. "We have been to a lot of horse shows together. We have so much fun," Pam Muller described the photos of Lauren through the years--from pigtails to hairnets."
With two more rounds to go in the Amateur-Owner Hunters, the sky opened up for a brief shower. London and Darby Toben didn't miss a beat. With spectators and trainers running for cover, Toben seemed to gain confidence and focus, putting in the round the judges would honor with second place.
The Championship and the Circuit Championship in the 3'6"Amateur-Owner Hunters went to INXS and Swinderman, with Irresistible Opportunity and Lauren Mullen earning the Reserve for the week, as well as the Reserve Circuit Championship. In the 3'3" Amateur-Owner Hunter, the circuit Championship was earned by Versace piloted by Lynn Seithel.
Today in the Large Junior Hunters, the lovely chestnut mare, Fidelia, owned by Redfield Farm and ridden by Hasbrouck Donovan, wowed the crowd with their fabulous and flawless rounds garnering two wins over fences. Reily Reiker from Oviedo, FL, maneuvered Lucky Jack, owned by Jane Iremonger, to the second place honors in the first round.
The handy round included several options for inside turns. The last two fences included the first fence in the outside line to an immediate rollback followed by a trot fence. Ashton Alexander and City of Angels, owned by DC Sales and Entertainment delivered the goods in the handy round executing the courses challenges to produce second place.
Saturday, The Tournament of Champions will conclude with activity in the Main Hunter Ring beginning at 8:00 am sharp for the Junior, Equitation and Children's Hunter divisions. Then the action moves to Raymond James Stadium for the 40th Annual $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational presented by G & C Farm. During the Tampa Equestrian Series, riders have the opportunity for championship and reserve championship honors in the Professional Hunter divisions, Junior Hunter divisions, and Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions. The event also features the Tampa Series Hunter High Score Circuit Awards in several hunter divisions.
For more information on Stadium Jumping, Inc. and the 2012 Tampa Equestrian Series please call (941) 744-5465. To download a copy of the prize list, please visit www.stadiumjumping.com.
Photos: INXS and Robin Swinderman; Irresistible Opportunity and Lauren Muller; Versace and Lynn Seithel; Fidelia and Hasbrouck Donovan. Photos By: Carrie Wirth /PMG.